Integrative Cancer Treatment – Best of Both Worlds

Have you noticed how many natural food stores and alternative healing centers are popping up nowadays?  It’s an undeniable trend that can also be seen in the world of veterinary care as more pet guardians are seeking a holistic approach to their companion’s health and well-being.  Organic foods, herbal supplements, homeopathic remedies, energy healing…the list of available options is growing each day.  But, what may seem like a trend is really just a return to the origins of healing arts.  Whole foods and herbs were the very first sources of “drugs” to help maintain health and restore it.  Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine have been practiced for thousands of years, and even newer forms of complementary therapies such as homeopathy and Bach flower essences are based on a profound respect for nature.

Unfortunately, many still see a divide between holistic/alternative therapies and conventional therapies when it comes to maintaining our animals’ health and many vets seem to frown upon pet guardians who pursue alternative therapies for their companions, often citing the lack of documented research supporting their benefit.  Few conventional vets actually recommend it to their clients as an adjunct to their routine veterinary care.  I think this is a shame, especially when it comes to cancer care.

Discovering holistic cancer care was one of the best things that ever happened to me during my bulldog Georgia’s fight against lymphoma.  When conventional medicine was taking its toll on her body and her spirit, we turned to holistic medicine — not to replace her conventional treatment, but to help her body tolerate it better.  With the help of an experienced holistic veterinarian, we discovered that the right combination of chinese herbs, nutritional supplements and dietary changes could not only reduce the side effects that Georgia was experiencing from chemo, but it also helped to boost her body’s natural abilities to fight the cancer, adding another layer of defense to help us in the battle.  Within a couple of weeks of following the advice of our holistic veterinarian, Georgia had gained weight and energy and was now able to cope with the physical and emotional strain of her weekly chemotherapy appointments. 

But, before you start taking matters into your own hands and start designing your own holistic treatment plan for your companion, take the time to actually consult with a holistic veterinarian who has some experience treating animals with cancer, even if it is just a phone consultation.  And, at all times, make sure your primary cancer vet is in the loop regarding what additional supplements and therapies you are considering.  While holistic approaches are generally much safer and have fewer side effects than conventional medications and therapies, they can still pose risks and have some contraindications.  For instance, some herbal therapies interfere with the efficacy of certain chemo drugs, and should not be used for a specific period before and after a chemo treatment.  Others may have a blood thinning effect and may not be recommended before an upcoming surgery.  It is your responsibility to keep all of your animal’s health care practicioners informed and connected at all times.  It will help them do their jobs better and it will help your pup to get the benefits of both worlds — alternative and conventional medicines. 

 To find a Veterinary Oncologist, visit:

To find a Holistic Veterinarian, visit:

For canine cancer information, support and resouces, visit the Georgia’s Legacy homepage at


About Kerry Malak

I am a Bulldog mom, Reiki Master/Teacher, pet loss counselor and canine cancer advocate who loves working with people and animals to help them live longer, happier and healthier lives.
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